cholera infantum


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cholera

 [kol´er-ah]
an acute infectious enteritis endemic and epidemic in Asia, caused by Vibrio cholerae, marked by severe diarrhea and vomiting, with extreme fluid and electrolyte depletion, and by muscle cramps and prostration. Called also Asiatic cholera.

Immunization and modern methods of sanitation have all but eliminated cholera epidemics in the United States and Europe, but they are still a danger in many other parts of the world, such as in India and many tropical regions. Travelers to cholera-ridden areas should protect themselves by vaccination, but this does not provide complete immunity. The local drinking water should be boiled; uncooked foods should be avoided; food should be protected from flies; and fruits and vegetables should be peeled with their rinds discarded.
Transmission. Vibrio cholerae is carried in the cholera victim's feces, urine, and vomitus, and is transmitted to others in contaminated water or food. Once it has reached the intestines, the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and the passages distended with a thin, watery fluid.
Symptoms. Symptoms begin to appear at any time from a few hours to 5 days after contact; the usual incubation period is 3 days. When the disease is at its peak, diarrhea and vomiting occur with such frequency and abundance that dehydration results very rapidly. The skin is cyanotic and shriveled, the eyes are sunken and the voice is feeble. There may be painful muscular cramps throughout the body.
Treatment. Because alkaline substances are lost in the vomitus and feces, acidosis as well as dehydration must be combated. The fluids and electrolytes are replaced either orally or by administration of a water, glucose, and electrolyte solution. Acid intoxication may require intravenous administration of sodium bicarbonate. Guidelines for cholera control are available from the World Health Organization.
Asiatic cholera see cholera.
cholera infan´tum a noncontagious diarrhea occurring in infants; formerly common in the summer months.
pancreatic cholera a condition marked by profuse watery diarrhea, hypokalemia, and usually achlorhydria, and due to an islet-cell tumor (other than beta cell) of the pancreas.

chol·er·a in·fan·tum

old term for a disease of infants, characterized by vomiting, profuse watery diarrhea, fever, prostration, and collapse.

cholera infantum

A nonspecific term meaning either:
(1) Summer complaint—An obsolete term for severe, prostrating gastroenteritis in infants occurring in hot weather and caused by unknown pathogens, possibly Shigella and Salmonella spp; or
(2) Infantile gastroenteritis.
 
It is not used in the working medical parlance.